Letter: Envisioning accessibility for all

To the Editor:

Kudos to Kathy Graham for sharing her mom’s experience of going through town in her wheelchair. Emma Lou Benedict, my predecessor as chair of the Ridgefield Commission for the Disabled, advocated for non-handicapped people to imagine the challenges to accessibility faced every day by people who use wheelchairs or other aids by observing the landscape as if through their eyes. Ms. Graham’s letter accentuates this point clearly. The essence of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is to promote reasonable accommodation and community discussion as to how best to meet the requirements of the act. Interestingly, the photo by Macklin Reid accompanying the letter depicts a woman pushing a baby carriage in the background. This serves to convey the point that a larger segment of the population beyond the almost one in five listed by the U.S. Census Bureau as having a disability benefits from community accessibility.

Currently, we are undergoing a townwide ADA self-evaluation being performed by the Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), a Boston based non-profit organization. This survey, which includes town structures, programs, and many outdoor spaces, including sidewalks and school facilities, will provide the town with a list (transition plan) of to-do items needed to insure accessibility as required by the ADA.

Ms. Graham’s contribution has helped to outline exactly why the town has initiated this course of action. Thank you for sharing both your and your mother’s perspectives.

Don Ciota

Chairman, Commission for the Disabled